The NoHo Arts District and PRO99 organize street party to save AJS Costumes
On Sunday, October 18, the NoHo Arts District and members of the “PRO99″ Los Angeles theater community are throwing a block party to raise awareness about the impact that new regulations from Actor’s Equity Association, the union of actors’ and stage managers, is having on the local community – including AJS Costumes which is in danger of going out of business. The NoHo Arts District and PRO99 Street Party to Save AJS Costumes will feature entertainment, music, celebrity speakers, community leaders and a costume parade of extravagant period costumes designed by AJS founder and owner Jeffrey Schoenberg.
Sunday, Oct. 18 from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
5223-5225 Lankershim Blvd.
North Hollywood, 91601
Actor’s Equity has promulgated a new plan regulating actors’ pay, scheduled to go into effect on June 1, 2016, that will force “intimate theaters” in Los Angeles to pay Equity actors minimum wage. Many smaller theaters allege that they will be forced to go “non-union” or face going out of business as a result. In anticipation, many 99-seat production budgets have already shrunk. AJS Costumes, which has served the greater Los Angeles theater community for over 13 years, currently faces a severe slowdown in business and is at risk of being one of the first major dominoes to fall.
“Changes in the local 99-seat theater plan are causing many theater companies to be very conservative about selecting their projects,” says Schoenberg, who has been honored with numerous awards and nominations, including Ovation, LA Weekly and Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, for his costume designs. “They are doing smaller productions, with less costume design needed, and fewer period plays. Business has slowed to a trickle. It has been devastating.”
According to Nancy Bianconi, publisher of NoHo Arts District’s website nohoartsdistrict.com, many businesses in the district are worried about the upcoming Equity changes. ”Our fear is that this could cripple the NoHo Arts District and undermine the district’s success in becoming a cultural tourist and entertainment destination,” she says.
PRO99 member Frances Fisher states, “If the new Actor’s Equity 99-Seat Theater Agreement goes through, it’s not just going to affect actors, it’s going to affect the larger Los Angeles community and its economy.”
PRO99 members (who take their name from the current Actor’s Equity 99-Seat Plan that allows members to volunteer in smaller venues) oppose AEA’s new agreement. Earlier this year, the Los Angeles membership of AEA voted down an advisory referendum on the new agreement by an overwhelming margin of 66%. In addition to regulating pay scales, the new agreement eliminates basic protections and rights mandated by the current 99-Seat Plan. PRO99 is requesting that AEA put a moratorium on the new agreement in order for local members’ voices to be heard, and that the union work together with its members to develop a plan that will adequately address the realities of the Los Angeles theater community.
Schoenberg has started a GoFundMe page to help support his business at https://www.gofundme.com/bn328dqq. Donations can also be made in person at the event.
PRO99 is a collective of actors, stage managers, other theater artists and audience members who are committed to preserving, protecting and promoting the intimate theater movement in Los Angeles and beyond. For more information about PRO99 go to www.ilove99.org.
ABOUT NOHO ARTS DISTRICT
The NoHo Arts District is a community organization that promotes art, culture, theater, festivals and all performing arts and happenings in the NoHo Arts District of North Hollywood. For more information go to www.nohoartsdistrict.com.
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